Three-alarm fire damages apartment on Monadnock Street in Dorchester; 68 people displaced

About 68 people are in a temporary shelter after a three-alarm fire ripped through their apartment building at 3 Monadnock St. in Dorchester today, officials said.

The fire started in the trash compactor shortly after 10:30 a.m. in the basement of the seven-story building and spread into the trash chute and the walls of some units at the upper levels of the building, said Fire Department spokesman Lieutenant Mike Walsh. The blaze was brought under control about noon.

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Firefighters used ladder trucks to reach the upper floors from the outside of the building.

First floor resident Keisha Stafford said when the smoke alarms sounded inside the building today she was not overly alarmed because they frequently go off.

But when she smelled something with the odor of burning rubber while she was in her kitchen, she decided not to take any chances.

“I put my sneakers on. I tried to look for my sweatshirt,’’ she said while standing outside the building. “I prayed God to look after my cat – and I left.’’ Stafford said she heard later that both of her cats had survived the fire.

One resident was taken to a Boston hospital for a medical issue unrelated the fire, Walsh said. No firefighters were injured, he said.

Evacuated residents have been given shelter at a nearby Salvation Army facility while the city’s Inspectional Services Department determines whether the building can be safely reopened to residents. The American Red Cross was sending volunteers to assist the residents.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.